Woah, that was quick! I'm always surprised at how short autumn seems to last. And just like that, I'm shivering under six layers and fuzzy socks, complaining about snow, shoveling snow, how ugly snow gets in the city and, of course, the cold.
It's not all bad — especially if you get to thaw out in the kitchen all winter long next to the oven or stove. Winter is the perfect time to fire up the crock pot for a hearty stew, or roast a ton of winter squashes for a warming and cozy meal at night.
Haven't hit the store yet? Good. You'll want to keep these recipes on repeat all season long.
Rosemary & Garlic Roast Beef
One hour, 45 minutes, serves 6
One night, Boyfriend and I hosted his family for dinner. They're the meat-and-potatoes type (read as: the best kind of people), but I never cooked a large slab of meat like that before. At least, not successfully. The recipe is easy enough. Even a pies-and-cakes kind of gal like me can breeze through it, and the flavor is on point. Don't even think about skimping on those 20 cloves of garlic.
Serve with a whipped potato or a sheet of roasted veggies and some crusty bread for mopping up all the delicious juices and 'shrooms.
Curried Carrot & Apple Soup
One hour, serves 12
It might be frigid and gray outside, but that doesn't mean there aren't fresh veggies and fruits to be enjoyed. Carrots, apples, leeks and plenty of others come into season on the cusp of autumn and winter. Luckily for us, they all shine in this slightly spicy and surprisingly easy soup.
Kitchen tip: Can't eat it all? Ladle single servings into glass or plastic storage containers and stick in the freezer. When you're ready to eat, just reheat.
Slow Cooker Mushroom Risotto
Two hours, serves 8
There's really nothing like a bowl of creamy risotto and a generous pour of a bold red wine to shake off that cold. Especially when your slow cooker does most of the work, giving you free time to do, you know, whatever it is you want. Risotto is usually such a laborious process (probably why it tastes so good), but you can't really tell the difference when it's done in a slow cooker or crockpot. At least, I won't share your secret.
Sub peas for 1-inch cubes of sweet potato or carrots for a seasonal, earthy twist, or serve with a pork chop for a meatier option.
Skillet Cranberry Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
One hour, serves 4
Cranberry isn't just for your Thanksgiving spread. I'm all for one-pot meals, especially when the week is dragging and dishes are piling. This festive, seasonal and oh-so-easy dish comes together in a cast-iron skillet easily, and can stand a substitution or two in the veggie department, like Brussels sprouts, winter squashes or potatoes, if you'd like.
Kitchen tip: Dried herbs cannot be substituted 1:1 for fresh, because they are more potent. Generally, you'll need three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. So this recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, you only need one teaspoon of dried, since there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon. That said, season to your tastes.
Braised Short Rib Shepard’s Pie with Guinness Gravy
4 hours, 30 minutes, serves 6-8
Technically, this recipe is intended for Saint Patrick's Day, but if you haven't noticed by now, I love meat and potatoes. (And pie, but that's for another day.)
I recommend preparing the meat a day before. It'll taste better and you'll have less work to do the day of – plus less cleanup.
Shepherd's pie is super adaptable to dietary needs or tastes, too. Vegetarians and vegans can skip the meat and use veggie stock, more mushrooms, celery, or even just a bag of frozen veggies. White potatoes can be swapped out for parsnips, cauliflower or sweet potatoes.
Chipotle Bison Chili
4 hours, 30 minutes, serves 6
Ground bison can be hard to find, but if you're so lucky, it really brings dishes to a new level that ground beef just can't reach. Plus, it's way healthier than it's bovine cousin, with lower saturated fat and usually have a more humane life.
Middle Eastern Meat Loaf
One hour, 15 minutes, serves 6-8
Ramadan has already passed, but this meatloaf definitely deserves a home on your dinner table this season. The mix of ground beef and lamb create a moist texture that's different from traditional meatloaves, and the mix of spices result in something slightly spicy, slightly sweet and absolutely delicious.
Serve this with some roasted carrots and pomegranate seeds to keep with the theme, or alongside a salad with an orange vinaigrette to bring out the meatloaf's subtle citrusy notes.